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Global businessman Geoffrey to be honoured for his commitment to the University

22 July 2011

A philanthropist who helped to establish a Foundation in America which has funded $1million in scholarships and bursaries for Bristol University will be honoured today [21 July].

A philanthropist who helped to establish a Foundation in America which has funded $1million in scholarships and bursaries for Bristol University will be honoured today [21 July].

Geoffrey Rowley graduated from the University in 1958 and went on to become a “tremendous ambassador”, leading alumni efforts in the United States where he ran his own successful global consulting firm.

His contribution to the University will be marked today when he’s awarded with a Doctor of Laws honorary degree in recognition of outstanding achievement and distinction in a field or activity consonant with the University’s mission.

His lifelong philanthropic relationship with the University began when Harvard University, where he had studied for an MBA, asked him for a gift of $50.

Geoffrey felt he owed at least as much to Bristol and made a similar gift which was to be the first of many.

He immediately offered his help when the newly formed alumni relations office embarked on a fundraising campaign in America in the 1990s.

Not only did he make a donation but helped to create the University’s US Foundation and later became its Chair, travelling to the UK each year for its AGM.

Bill Ray, Chair of Convocation at Bristol University, is delivering the oration at the ceremony and said: “Throughout his career and in addition to building a very successful company, Geoff found time for something that mattered deeply to him, giving back to our University.

“His energy, charm and leadership have helped create a Foundation, which in its 14 year history has funded dozens of scholarships and bursaries for less privileged students by giving more than $1 million to the university.”

Geoffrey’s business success followed his Economics and Government degree at Bristol and a spell in the buying office at Pirelli.

Being in charge of graduate trainees at Pirelli awakened a passion for management education, which led him to study for a certificate in Industrial Administration at Glasgow University.

He then won scholarships from the English Speaking Union and the Johnson Wax Foundation to attend an MBA program at Harvard Business School, before joining the Associates for International Research Inc. (AIR Inc) which specialised in consulting and expatriate compensation for both the US Air Force and private industry.

Geoffrey became a part-owner, Director and Executive Vice President of the company and spent the next 35 years building the company, working as a consultant to clients primarily in the oil and gas, energy service, and extractive industries.

He worked with major multinational companies all over the world from Angola and the Congo to Sudan and the USSR.

And by 2001 the company employed 80 people and AIR had one of the best client portfolios of any HR company in the world.

In 2005 Geoff sold his interest in AIR and has now formally retired both from business and the Foundation.

For more information please visit the University news pages.